What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
I have a bachelors degree from University of Michigan
. I have taken part in the SBA e200 Initiative
Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
Do friends and family count? After that, new customers came from word of mouth referrals.
Where did you find your first employee?
Again, it was through friends and family. The first few years were rough. I started with just enough money to buy equipment, do modest renovations, and pay the rent. Payroll was not in the original round of startup capital. Many friends and family donated their time or worked for less than minimum wage. They really helped me to succeed during the first two years. After that I hired teenagers from the local high schools, seniors and moms that needed part time work.
Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
Yes, I have. Ten years ago a young employee of mine went back to school and returned to do an internship. I then hired her on full time and she is still with Edibles Rex today. She has been the only one to inquire about an internship. But today we are connected to a program called Shifting Gears sponsored by the MEDC
. They help displaced corporate employees learn how to transition into small business. We hope to hire some staff from that program.
Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
About 12 years ago I opened lines of credit with my bank National City. They have since become PNC and they continue to increase our lines as our business needs require it. These lines have been very handy for short term use. Finding capital for long term use (10-plus years) has been extremely challenging. I am trying to raise the capitol to renovate a building in Detroit to expand our operations. I have applied for SBA financing at several well known banks without success. I have also gone thru training to present my project to venture capital firms.
What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
I started in Detroit and I am staying in Detroit. Are there advantages that make sense other than its where I like to be? We are a Detroit company with 80 percent of our staff living in Detroit. Most of our customers are from Detroit. We buy from Detroit vendors.
If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
The obstacles to growing a business in Detroit. It’s just too hard to get capitol for a Detroit project. Seven years ago I started to look for a site and a loan to expand my business. Everyone agrees we need to rebuild our city. Entrepreneurs are taking on the risk to do that. Financial institutions need to share our risk and ease the criteria to be eligible for long term loans.